Eugene “Gene” Donald Koepke of Columbia, Missouri was born on October 17, 1947 in Owensville, Missouri and passed away on September 16, 2021 at the age of 73 years.
He grew up on a farm on Hog Trough Road between Owensville and Cuba, Missouri. He loved farming and developed a lifelong passion for sports.
At the age of 13, Gene was diagnosed with Limb Girdle Muscular Dystrophy. That changed the trajectory of his life. He felt he could not successfully farm like his father or drive a truck like his grandfather.
Upon graduation from Owensville High School in 1965 he went to Capitol Business College and learned bookkeeping. While living in Jefferson City, Missouri he made many lifelong friends. He was afraid his MD would keep him from getting a good job but was hired by Missouri State Penitentiary and worked there for 10 years.
On August 7, 1969 he married Frances Stafford. They eloped to Oklahoma much to the dismay of her parents. Many years later they found out her parents, Stan and Lois Stafford, had also eloped when they married.
At the age of 25 Gene was no longer able to walk and spent the rest of his life in a wheelchair.
In 1975 Gene left the Missouri State Penitentiary and went to work for his in-laws at Pepsi. This gave them the opportunity to travel to Pepsi Conventions all over the USA. In 1986 the Pepsi franchise was sold and the family soon retired.
In retirement, Gene was able to give more time to his passion for sports. He attended Missouri football and basketball games for over 40 years. He was a lifelong St. Louis Cardinals baseball fan. He started going to Columbia College games and became the honorary coach always sitting between the coach and the scoring table.
After 41 years of happy marriage, Fran passed away in 2010. In 2015 Gene married Deb Iwig.
He is survived by his daughter, Laura (Jeff) Lentz; son, Mark Koepke; three granddaughters, Averie, Lillyanne, and Roselynn; wife, Deb; two step children, Caity and Jackson Hermann; mother, Gladys Koepke of Cuba, Missouri; brother, James and wife Dorathea Koepke of Cuba, Missouri; other relatives and friends.
Visitation was held from 5-7 p.m. on Monday, September 20, 2021 at the Memorial Funeral Home in Columbia, Missouri.
Funeral services were held at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, September 21, 2021 at the Columbia United Church of Christ in Columbia, Missouri.
Graveside services followed at the Memorial Park Cemetery.